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MLA 9 Style Guide

Updated for the 2021 9th edition

What It Is

MLA works cited entry core elements template with Container field highlightedSometimes, but not always, a source is part of a larger whole. MLA calls this larger whole the "Container." Basically, the Source is inside of a Container.

Visualize this idea by thinking of nesting dolls. With nesting dolls, you open a large doll to reveal a smaller one inside. Then you open that smaller doll to find an even smaller one inside of it! 

4 nesting dolls standing in a line from largest to smallest with the largest colored black, the second red, the third blue, and the final smallest doll green

Image by allysonmiller1969 from Pixabay

Using this nesting doll analogy, the source is a smaller doll inside the larger doll.

When the source you are using is a part of a whole, it is inside a Container. We include the Title of Container as part of the works cited entry.

Container Examples

  • Articles are contained in journals, magazines, newspapers, some ebooks, and websites
  • Chapters are contained in books or ebooks
  • Episodes are contained in a television series or podcast series
  • Videos are contained in an app or a website like TikTok or YouTube
    • Movies might be contained in an app or a website like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video
  • Images are contained in all types of containers, including books, magazines, museum exhibits, websites, apps and more
  • Songs are contained in an album or a streaming service like Spotify 
  • Posts and Comments are contained in an app or a website like Facebook or Instagram
    • Tweets are contained in Twitter

Where to Find It

How to Style It

The Title of Container is the beginning of a complete sentence.

  1. Title Case
  2. Italicized
  3. Followed by a comma and then the other Core Elements to describe it.
  4. End the sentence with a period.

The Title of Container is written in Title Case, which capitalizes all the major words in the title. Each citation style has its own capitalization particulars, and MLA's are found in section 2.90 - 2.98 in the manual. 



These examples show where the Title of Container fits inside the bigger works cited entry:

Author. "Title of Source." Title of Container, contributor, numbers, Publisher, date, location. Second Container, location.
Roiphe, Katie. "16 Things to Remember at College."  The Atlantic, 6 Aug. 2021,
"Stress in Childhood." MedlinePlus, updated by Neil K. Kaneshiro, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 27 May 2020,
Goldberg, Shari L., and Mawn, Barbara E. “Predictors of Food Insecurity among Older Adults in the United States.” Public Health Nursing, vol. 32, no. 5, Sep.-Oct. 2015, pp. 397-407. Wiley Online Library, Accessed 10 Aug. 2021.